May 09, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A May 8, 2017 CNBC article reported on a White House meeting on biomedical research with drug company executives, academics and government health leaders in attendance. Dr. Francis Collins, Head of the NIH, said there was a lot of discussion about specific scientific opportunities, particularly on problems in the brain, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury. The main focus: how to ensure that U.S. dominance in biomedical research continues.

A May 8, 2017 Medical Xpress article focused on findings from researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, showing that the protein SIRT6 is almost completely absent in Alzheimer's disease patients and likely contributes to its onset. "If a decrease in SIRT6 and lack of DNA repair is the beginning of the chain that ends in neurodegenerative diseases in seniors, then we should be focusing our research on how to maintain production of SIRT6 and avoid the DNA damage that leads to these diseases,” said Dr. Deborah Toiber, BGU Department of Life Sciences.


According to a May 8, 2017 Nasdaq GlobeNewswire article, Axsome Therapeutics received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for AXS-05 for the treatment of agitation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 45% of patients diagnosed with AD experience agitation, characterized by emotional distress, aggressive behaviors, disruptive irritability and disinhibition. It has been associated with increased caregiver burden, decreased functioning, earlier nursing home placement and increased mortality. There are currently no therapies approved by the FDA for the treatment of agitation in patients with AD.


A May 8, 2017 Brain Blogger article focused on a class of drugs called protease inhibitors, used to treat HIV, but which may have side effects including impaired cognitive function with symptoms such as forgetfulness, confusion, and behavioral and motor changes. New research from the University of Pennsylvania shows that protease inhibitors increase levels of beta amyloid in the brain, which can impair the way brain cells function and plays a major role in Alzheimer’s disease.


A May 8, 2017 NBC WCSH6 article spotlights a video of a mom in assisted living, 88 years old and with Alzheimer’s, singing with her son. According to Brian Ridings, “I realized while I was singing with her tonight, I had never videoed us singing together, so I captured a couple of songs for posterity. Most days I miss her, but she always comes back to me when we sing."


A May 9, 2017 Financial Review article focused on an Australian biotech company launching an international trial with the drug Xanamem, to lessen the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the brains of people with early mild Alzheimer's. Cortisol's potential as a factor in Alzheimer’s, identified at Edinburgh University 15 years ago, shows that when at a high level over a long time, could be toxic to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that assimilates recent memory, and contribute to neurodegeneration and amyloid build-up. According to Dr. Bill Ketelbey, CEO and Managing Director of the biotech Actinogen Medical, “Alzheimer's is one of those diseases where there has to be multiple shots on goals. We've got to keep attacking it from every direction because the disease is highly unlikely to have one ultimate therapy. Rather than a magic bullet, there's probably going to be a combination of therapies.”